Police in suburban Minneapolis continued to respond over the weekend to news that an officer confronted Daunte Wright’s mother for stopping on a highway shoulder and recording officers.
Katie Wright held a news conference Thursday to present her case to the public: She said she stopped her sedan on a highway to record officers in the middle of a traffic stop.
“I pulled over to the shoulder, stopped to record to make sure that those babies — it was two young kids; they had to have been in their 20s — to make sure they got home safe, because we know we have a police problem in Minnesota,” Wright said.
“All I was doing was my civic duty to pull over and make sure that those babies got home safe to their families, because I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other families,” she said Thursday.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department, which did not specifically say the officer who confronted Wright was within policy or the law, released a timeline of key events related to the interaction, which happened Wednesday.
The police department, the employer of Daunte Wright’s killer before the officer resigned last year, also released body camera video and audio from the scene of the highway confrontation.
Daunte Wright was 20 when he was fatally shot by Officer Kim Potter.
Potter said she meant to deploy a Taser after Wright tried to get back in his vehicle during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021. Potter was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced in February to two years in prison.
Daunte Wright’s death, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, inspired renewed demonstrations by justice and police reform protesters.
That history was personal for Katie Wright as she pointed her camera at officers from the same agency that stopped her son in 2021.
One of three Brooklyn Center officers at the scene Wednesday initially motioned for Wright to keep moving, the suburban police department said in a statement. Wright did not comply.
She had stopped her sedan on or near the center median’s shoulder in the direction of northbound traffic, and officers were in the middle of what the police department described in a statement as “a high-risk stop” on the right shoulder of southbound lanes.
Another law enforcement agency, which was not named, had requested the department’s help with the stop, which involved a homicide investigation, Brooklyn Center police said.
After the stop was deemed to be under control, one of the three Brooklyn Center officers confronted Wright.
The officer approached her because one of the people subjected to the traffic stop objected to being recorded, the police department said.
“As one of our officers was assisting in detaining a person from the high-risk stop the person being detained stated she did not want to be filmed and wanted the person filming to stop,” it said in a statement.
The officer crossed busy lanes of Highway 252 to reach Wright. She said her wrist was injured when the officer pulled her from the vehicle, took her phone from her hand and put it on the roof of her car.
The officer, who has not been identified, indicated Wright would be getting some kind of ticket in the mail. It was not clear from body camera video whether he specified what violations he had in mind.
NBC affiliate KARE of Minneapolis-St. Paul reported that one possibility was a citation for failing to comply with an officer’s order not to stop on a highway.
There may be a superseding right to observe police, however. Wright threatened to sue the department over the stop.
Wright said the officer told her she was being arrested. “Once I told him who I was, he let me go.”
“You know who I am, right?” she said, according to audio captured with police body camera video. “I’m Katie Wright. You guys killed my son, and I’m going to videotape it.”
She was referring to the traffic stop that evening.
“If you take me to jail,” she said, “I’m going to sue you.”
There is normally no right to privacy from cameras in such a public setting, and it is unclear why police believed they had a role in fulfilling the wish of a subject of a stop not to be recorded.
Police and other government agencies have long lobbied for more video cameras and other surveillance tools in public spaces such as highways.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C., said in a primer on photographers’ rights, “Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right.”
The ACLU of Minnesota noted that it successfully defended a woman, Amy Jo Kooperman, who was criminally charged with interfering with law enforcement after she recorded police in 2018 in the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale.
Kooperman sued the suburban city, alleging it violated her “First and Fourth Amendment rights to record and speak to police, and to not be cited with obstructing justice for exercising her constitutional rights,” the ACLU of Minnesota said in a statement last year.
On Friday the civil liberties organization tweeted: “Let’s make this absolutely clear: You have the right to record police actions as long as you do not interfere with their activities and are not breaking any other law. Period.”
The statewide union that represents rank-and-file law enforcement officers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to The Associated Press, Brooklyn Center police union President Chuck Valleau praised the officer who confronted Wright for what he described as a “professional response and restraint during the incident.”